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Phosphorus exists as an element primarily in two forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, and has high reactivity. The most important property of phosphorus is that it emits a glow when exposed to oxygen. White phosphorus gives a glow during oxidation and this process is referred to as chemiluminescence.
Phosphorus compounds include inorganic phosphorus compounds, organophosphorus, phosphanes, phosphates, phosphides, phosphine oxides, phosphorus oxoanions, quaternary phosphonium compounds, and thiophosphoryl compounds. Organophosphorus compounds include organophosphorus acids, organophosphorus acid halides, organophosphorus amides, organophosphorus halides, organophosphorus complexes, phosphonic esters (RP(=O)(OR')2), phosphites (P(OR)3), phosphine oxides (R3P=O), and fluorophosphate salts. Organophosphorus compounds play a vital role in detergents and nerve agents, and in the field of pharmaceuticals are used as antibacterial, antileukemic, antiparasitic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antihypertensive, and antioxidant agents.